10 Tips To Finding The Right Gym

Author: Dell Farrell   Date Posted:10 September 2017 

Sometimes it’s hard to get into ‘the zone’ and push yourself to crush a workout if the dog is humping your leg and your partner is telling you to take out the garbage.

If your living room is too filled with distraction it may be time to consider joining a gym. This can be a great daily escape to build into your routine. If you are looking for an outlet to release daily stress and recharge, be sure to choose a facility that aligns with your goals and preferences.

Working out in my hometown gym is always an awesome experience. Instead of dreading workouts, there’s an atmosphere that makes lifting addictive. Members feel at home there. It’s somewhere you can feel comfortable training. But how do you pick what kind of gym makes YOU feel this way?

A work space with positive energy is uplifting for both gym goers and gym employees. Feeding off this positive energy can keep you consistent when motivation is scarce. As an online strength and nutrition coach, I want my clients to feel encouraged -- not intimidated -- whenever and wherever they workout.

How do you find your Gymtopia? That will depend on experience, goals and individual preferences.

Inspiring gyms can cultivate a motivating community and to keep coming back even after things get tough. After experiencing a colorful variety of gyms across the globe, below are the factors that can aid your quest to find your workout sanctuary.


1. Try Before You Buy

Any good gym offers a trial period to try before making any serious commitment. After all if you are going to be spending several hours a week somewhere, you want to make sure it’s a good fit. Attend as much as you can in this trial period. This will give you a feel for what the place is all about.

A trial period is also a great idea to test out whether the equipment fits your needs and is of good quality. Most gyms offer some sort of free trial or introductory offer. Don’t sign up before the test drive. A gym is usually a long term commitment, if you are paying for something, you want to know it’s right for you before saying “I do.”

2. Prioritise What Is Important To You

What do you need in a gym?

A relaxing environment with a social side that keeps you coming back consistently? Perhaps you just want somewhere you can get in and out uninterrupted, with an uncluttered floor space and good equipment? Opening hours that cater for your busy schedule? Do you want to do your own workouts or train with a personal trainer? Are group training classes more your thing? 

Prioritise what factors are of most importance so you select a facility you actually want to go to.

3. Ask Current or Past Members and Read Reviews

Ask members how long they've trained there and what they like about it. You can look at reviews online on sites such as Yelp or Facebook, to see what others have to say about it.

Good support for members and uplifting staff are beneficial in keeping you coming back even when your own motivation dips. Instead of relying on motivation, choose a stress-free gym environment. A place you can't wait to get to after a long day or on those frosty early winter mornings. Just like choosing an enjoyable, sustainable diet that you don't want to escape from, train somewhere that you can see yourself sticking with.

Choosing a gym can be tricky. But doing your homework pays off. Jumping into a long contract with the first place you come across can lead to a rarely used membership leaving you with bitter feelings of guilt and regret.

 A gym that fuels your motivation and keeps you consistent is vital to achieving your goals in the long run. 

4. Atmosphere

An aspect that is often overlooked, this can make the gym experience less daunting and increasingly enjoyable. 

Whatever your jam is, you’ll find a gym that speaks to you. Some of the bigger chain gyms like Fitness First allow you to access multiple branches on one membership which can be useful if you travel regularly.

If the regular gym environment doesn’t appeal to you, you could try a club with classes or a different take on exercise like yoga, pilates, martial arts, crossfit, or one that offers group fitness classes for more guidance like FitStop or F45.

5. Location

When you’re rolling out of bed on a frosty winter morning, or after a busy day in the office, how motivated are you going to be to drive twenty minutes out of the way to fit in your workout? Choosing a super convenient location might be the difference between building a workout habit into your routine, or going only when reminded of your gym membership after spotting that swipe card loitering in the depths of your wallet.

Choose something on your daily commute - this way, breaking your momentum towards your goal physique will be harder to do. Getting there is often half the battle. As our lives become busier, we allow all sorts of excuses to push working out further back into an overflowing schedule. If this sounds like a scenario you’d find yourself in, make sure location is a key factor when weighing up your choice.

If you are already super-motivated, and other factors like having the best equipment are more of a priority, location may be lower down on the list of important qualities to consider. 

6. Opening Hours

If your gym closes at 9pm and it’s already 8.05pm then it’s easy to talk yourself out of squeezing in that training session. There’s nothing quite as disappointing as deciding to fit in a Sunday afternoon workout, only to find locked doors and an empty gym. Whether you’re a night owl or an early riser, find a gym that caters to your schedule.

The increasing abundance of 24-hour gyms means fitting in a workout is easier than ever. 24-hour gyms usually have their quiet times if you’d prefer a relatively empty gym where you don’t have to wait for equipment. If you are looking to do group classes or coaching, make sure your coaches hours or class times fit your schedule.

Be sure to find out whether they have reduced hours or are closed over holidays. This might be a great time to get extra workouts in, but many gyms are closed on certain holidays which may interfere with your plans. After having the luxury a 24 hour gym that is open every day of the year, converting back to a gym with regular hours is an unattractive option. (A side note on 24-hour gyms, as a female it feels safer to attend a facility staffed 24/7).

7. Equipment

If you are new to working out, a gym with more machines and a guided circuit set up can make workouts less daunting. Most larger gyms have a full body circuit so you don’t have to think when you are in a new and foreign place. If you have a specific program you want to follow or focus on barbell compound lifts, be sure to choose a gym with enough squat racks and space to cater for this. 

8. Cost

There are gyms to suit a wide range of budgets. You can get something very basic for under $10 a week or pay a premium price for quality classes and added luxuries. If you want a clean gym, the best equipment, nice hot showers that make showering at home seem less appealing, a higher end gym might be your jam.

Preliminary data has shown that the more you pay for your gym membership the more likely you are to show up. Investing in yourself is likely to bring many positive changes in your life, so forking out the cash to pay for a gym you love can be totally worth it.

A gym habit can consequently reduce unhealthy habits like excessive drinking, smoking, overeating, etc. Switching your daily greasy take out meals to simple homemade meals and reducing the money you spend on alcohol can be enough to justify spending a few extra bucks on a badass gym. 

9. Private or Semi-Private Personal Training

If you’re new to working out or have never had a gym membership before, getting a few sessions with a coach is a good idea. Committing to private or semi-private personal training is a solid strategy to stay committed, motivated and accountable.

A good coach will put you on a program tailored to your specific goals and fitness level. Beware of trainers that try to push you beyond breaking point every session, especially if you are relatively new to working out. Contrary to what shows like The Biggest Loser promote, dying in a pool of sweat after each session is not the best way to get fit and healthy.

Judge a program on its ability to get you progressively stronger with improved technique. If you have money to spend on a quality trainer, results can be dramatically accelerated. Are you looking for fat loss, muscle gain, rehab, general health and fitness, or sport specific training?

Find a coach that has some expertise in your chosen area as well as a coaching style that fits you (eg body transformation, powerlifting, bodybuilding, yoga, rehab, etc).

A good trainer should have a track record of proven results. Speaking to past or present clients can give you an idea of what to expect and how they operate. Again trying out a few sessions before any long term commitment is a good idea.

A gym that has friendly and knowledgeable staff is an additional benefit that adds to your overall gym experience. There is nothing worse than training in a negative or hostile gym environment. Get a good feel for the place as you will potentially be spending several hours a week there. Good energy can fuel your training like a good preworkout. 

10. Cleanliness and Maintenance

A gym might look awesome in photos and seem to have everything you need. Then you get there and you spend more time looking for a matching set of dumbbells than actually working out. An untidy and unclean gym can be a shitty environment to train in. Are machines in good working order? Are weights put away after use?

You don’t want to go on a quest for the missing dumbbell or adjust your program to navigate around the broken equipment every time you go to gym. Get a tour of the gym and assess whether this is going to be a problem. A good gym should have staff happy to show you around and answer any questions.


Time to go find your home gym!

The momentum it takes to move towards your goals starts with selecting somewhere you can grow into the best version of yourself. Consistency is more important than any single workout, and somewhere enjoyable is going to make new habits easier to form compared with a gym you want to leave as soon as you arrive. Find somewhere that will help you smash your goals and fuel your success.


Author: Dell Farrell
Certified Strenth and Nurition Coach
Instagram: @becauseglutes
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dellfarrellfitness/
Website: www.dellfarrell.com


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